In what she called an "honest mistake," Boston's mayor apologized this week after an email inviting elected officials of color to a holiday event was accidentally sent to every council member, according to multiple media reports.
Mayor Michelle Wu, the city's first Asian American mayor,
said the mistake was made when her aide, Denise DosSantos, sent the email to
all officials instead of a select few.
It was indeed an honest mistake for the Democratic mayor, a daughter of immigrants from Taiwan, to suggest initially that council members would be welcome regardless of race, creed, or national origin. And so
"Honorable members: On behalf of Mayor Michelle Wu, I cordially invite you and a guest to the Electeds of Color Holiday Party," read the email, which was obtained by the Boston Herald.
The event for "electeds of color" reportedly took place Wednesday at the Parkman House.....
In a statement to WCVB-TV, the mayor explained the error. "I think we've all been in a position at one point where an email went out, and there was a mistake in the recipient."
Perhaps when her aide sent out the email, she forgot to add "whites need not apply." Responding to criticism
Wu added it was custom for “diverse” members of council to take turns hosting the annual party, which has taken place for years.
“I’ve been a part of a group that gathers, representing elected officials of color across all different levels of government in Massachusetts,” Wu told the outlet. “A group that has been in place for more than a decade, and the opportunity to create a space for people to celebrate and rotate who hosts.”
Holiday gatherings for all elected officials are also planned, Wu said, adding she “looked forward to celebrating with everyone at the holiday parties that we have besides this one, as well.”
It's a safe bet that none of the gatherings will be advertised for "elected white officials" (who comprise 7 of the 13 members) or "elected officials of whiteness." That's a good thing- which, in the world of Michelle Wu, cannot be assumed to be widely understood.
Following the Brown v. Board of Education decision of the US Supreme Court, "White Citizens' Councils" sprung up throughout the southeastern USA. Spoiler alert: they were not established to facilitate integration nor to eradicate discrimination. On a positive note, there is no record of leaders arguing their cause was legitimate because of the existence of other groups such as the NAACP.
One black city councilor, Brian Worrell, told the Boston Herald "We make space and spaces for all kinds of specific groups in the city and city government. This is no different, and the Elected Officials of Color has been around for more than a decade."
In its 3+ iterations, the Ku Klux Klan has been around for well over a century. The KKK is evil, of course- but that's the point. Having survived does not necessarily lend legitimacy to a group. The Elected Officials of Color presumably has a right to exist and to assemble peacefully, though "White Elected Officials" would prove to be far more than controversial.
Nonetheless, the invitation was extended by the chief executive of a city, an individual elected to represent everyone no matter the constituent's race, color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. It was an invitation to a segregated event, in which no whites need apply.
We thought- or at least hoped- that we had put the days of racial discrimination behind us. However, bigotry and resultant discrimination have grown along with the adoption of the principles and policies of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It turns out that "inclusion" means inclusion for our group, not for yours. The damage to the country, and to the party of Mayor Wu, beckons.